The biggest loss of not having a very good memory is perhaps that it is difficult to remember your old days. I remember my early school days only in pictures . On really thinking hard,I see myself as a 5 year old riding a toy horse ,trying to sleep on the huge carpet in the classroom . But the fear that I would be left alone once I sleep never let me enjoy a nap in my nursery classroom. Then I remember getting 99% in 2nd class, but being sad because my best friends got full marks.These are just glimpses of the past. Till the 5th grade, there’s no complete memory…..except one….. when it was the first time I had a crush,or perhaps was in love,for I have never known the difference between the two.
I remember only one day of my 3rd class…..the first day…..and only one part of it…..the morning assembly. Morning assembly was the time when we first got to meet our friends after entering the new class,only 3 topics were discussed on the first day….new students….previous class result……and the new homeroom teacher. I joined in the conversation my friends were having about the new entries.
“he’s so thin,even I can beat him without any help” said Himanshu.
“what’s his name?”somebody asked,I don’t remember who did.
“pulkit” came the reply.
The conversation went on for some time,as we had come early for the assembly so the we could discuss everything about the new class. Most students were wearing new dresses,including me….with my hair well oiled and combed ,new knickers,long enough to touch the knees,new socks,a pair of shoes shining brightly to show that they were also new,and most importantly,a new spotless shirt. I have never dressed better than this all my life , not yet.
“make your lines”our sports teacher shouted from the stage ,with a mike in his hand.We began to align ourselves. It was then that I got the first glimpse of her, beautifully dressed in a pink frock,her hair well tightened to form a ponytail,she was the most amazing sight of beauty I had ever seen,and that is perhaps the reason I’ll always remember that morning assembly.We formed the line height-wise,and the different sections of a class stood next to each other.She was standing in between 3A-my section and 3B,the next section, clueless about what to do,as she was new to the school. “Come to 3A,come to 3A” I kept whispering,praying to god that she would come to 3A. But she had other plans,as she chose 3B. My heart drowned, I did not know why,because till then,all we knew about boys and girls was that they were enemies,and boys were better than girls.Now,I think,that for me this was the time the enimosity ended.
I stood in my line,devastated that she was in 3B.Just before the assembly began,our homeroom teacher joined in.
“she’s Poonam Bhatnagar”himanshu whispered to me from behind,”the most cruel teacher you’ll ever see”.It looked so,from her face.She looked like a wicked witch,and I made it a point to stay away from her as much as possible.
The prayer began, with class 9th music choire singing a prayer written by our hindi teacher. I was not interested,for my dream girl stood just a few yards away from me.I tried to stop myself from looking at her again and again,but had no control over my eyes. Then I saw mrs Poonam bhatnagar asking her if her name was Maya Fetcher. She replied in positive,and at once I got to know her name,Maya Fetcher. The prayer ended at that moment and we went through a small round of “stand-at-ease” and “attention” at the command of our sports teacher. My face again turned towards Maya and I saw that our homeroom teacher was still talking to her.
“you are standing in the wrong line,child”she said,”you are in my class.”
There, the witch became my angel.
The next memory I have is neither of 3rd class,nor of the 4th. I don’t exactly remember what happened during those two years,all I I know is that I had started talking to Maya and now she was my friend.Also,that many other boys had the feelings for her as I did. She was now the reason of a competition between the boys,to prove to her that they were the best match for her.Nobody ever said anything to anyone else,but everyone knew everything.Maya seemed to enjoy it,she had made friends with all the boys who liked her.
I have always told everyone that 5th class was my best year,but with time I have forgotten all the small reasons,but I do remember the biggest reason : I had won the so-called “competition” between the boys.
It happened on the last day of our final exams of 5th class that I first heard the sentence which I have had to use very frequently from that time. ”I need to talk to you” Maya had said at the end of the last exam.I was standing in the school ground with my two best friends and I felt a little embarrassed. We were still in 5th class ,and a girl wanting to talk to a boy in private was a “strange” thing.Nikhil gupta and Pulkit,my friends,decided to leave us alone.
“let’s go there,under that tree” Maya said to me,pointing towards it.
I agreed and there we were,standing under that tree.
“so?”I said,wondering what she had to say.
“Sukrit just told me that you like me”she said,stressing on each word,except Sukrit.Sukrit was a boy from 3B.
I was shocked to hear this,my entire body was heating up,and ears were burning.It was the most embarrassing moment of my life.
“what?”was the only word I could say,how could Sukrit have known,was one of the thing I was wondering about.
“He said you like me”she repeated,”is that true?”
I did not know what to say,my brain wasn’t working,and this was the time I got to know that I was a coward.
“well,you know Sukrit is a bad guy,you should not listen to him” I said to Maya,hiding my feelings,even though it was the right time to express them.
“I don’t know about that”Maya replied,”I have a more important thing to say”
“what?” I asked,expecting another shocker
“I like you”,we were too young to use the word “love” or “crush” at that time.Now even children of 1st class use these words,but it wasn’t the same back then.
As much as I wanted to,I had never expected to hear these words from her . I felt myself shaking at the knees.No words came out from my mouth,all the joy and happiness was there,but no words.
“so?do you like me?”she asked,after waiting for my answer.Still no words.
She waited for some seconds.
“ok Deepak, you can answer me after the hols”she said. It was overwhelming for both of us,it’s just that she knew how to deal with it, I did not.
“I think that’s Jennifer coming to me”she said,pointing to a girl about 20 yards away from us,”you may go now Deepak”
I turned ,and walked two or 3 steps before breaking into a run,and with all my power, I ran. It did not matter to me where I was going,as far as I could feel the air beating on my face,the feeling of a winner all over me,it was the first time I had won in the big world,without any support from my parents or anyone else,unaware of the fact that I was still one tiny little step away from Love.
“so,what did she say?” Nikhil asked,as I went back to my two friends.
“nothing” I replied
“nothing important”I lied,for her words were the most important thing at that time.
I did not meet Maya for the rest of the day.The next day,holidays began and they continued for 12 more days after that.I spent most of my time thinking, not about what to say,but about how to say it…..how to accept a proposal.
Our school reopened on 18th of March.I was really excited, “it’s time to express your love”,I said to myself. Maya came to me in the first lecture itself and sat next to me.We talked a little,I knew she was expecting me to answer her proposal,but somehow,whenever I tried to talk about it,my mouth would not open.
She was very patient though,and waited for me to speak,but I just could not talk about love.
At the end of the day,I still could not tell her that I loved her.It continued for the rest of the week,I kept avoiding her, and we hardly spoke.I had concluded that I was unable to say “yes” because I had no idea what was going to happen afterwards,and feared what would shape up. Another thing that I feared was that she would draw her own conclusion of the situation and assume that my answer was in negative,which was not true.I desperately wanted to tell her that I loved her.
Maya waited patiently for a week,but then, she came to me during the break.
“I need to talk to you”she said,clearly looking upset.
“Deepak,I want to tell you that you are my very good friend,and whatever I said at the end of the exams was an april fool prank”
Now, I might always have been a coward,but I was never a fool.I understood that my fear had come true , 1st of april was still a week away.
“I knew”I said,with a little smile on my face,”I always knew”
For all those willing to know,I eventually was able to shed away my fear,and propose Maya 4 years later, at the end of 9th class,and I did not have to wait for the answer.